Majority Opinions Authored by Justice William Brennan

479 U.S. 238 (1986) FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION v. MASSACHUSETTS CITIZENS FOR LIFE, INC.   No. 85-701. Supreme Court of United States.   Argued October 7, 1986 Decided December 15, 1986 APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT*240 Charles N. Steele argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs… Read more

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These are companion cases to Speiser v. Randall and Prince v. City and County of San Francisco, ante, p. 513. The petitioners claimed the property-tax exemption provided by Art. XIII, § 1 1/2, of the California Constitution for real property and buildings used solely and exclusively for religious worship. The Los Angeles assessor denied the exemptions because each petitioner refused to subscribe, and struck from the prescribed application form, the oath that they did not advocate the overthrow of the Government of the United States and of the State of California by force or violence or other unlawful means nor advocate the support of a foreign government against the United States in the event of hostilities. Each petitioner sued in the Superior Court in and for the County of Los Angeles to recover taxes paid under protest and for declaratory relief. Both contended that the exaction of the oath pursuant to § 19 of Art. XX of the State Constitution and § 32 of the California Revenue and Taxation Code was forbidden by the Federal Constitution. The court upheld the validity of the provisions in the action brought by petitioner First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, and the Supreme Court of California affirmed. 48 Cal. 2d 419, 311 P. 2d 508. We granted certiorari. 355 U. S. 853. The Superior Court in the action brought by petitioner Valley Unitarian-Universalist Church, Inc., upheld the validity of the provisions under the Federal Constitution but held that § 32 of the Revenue and Taxation Code violated the California Constitution because it excluded or exempted householders from the requirement. The Supreme Court of California reversed, 48 Cal. 2d 899, 311 P. 2d 540, and we granted certiorari, 355 U. S. 854.

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Appellant sought to challenge the constitutionality of the Maryland motion picture censorship statute, Md. Ann. Code, 1957, Art. 66A, and exhibited the film "Revenge at Daybreak" at his Baltimore theatre without first submitting the picture to the State Board of Censors as required by § 2 thereof.[1] The State concedes that the picture does not violate the statutory standards[2] and *53 would have received a license if properly submitted, but the appellant was convicted of a § 2 violation despite his contention that the statute in its entirety unconstitutionally impaired freedom of expression. The Court of Appeals of Maryland affirmed, 233 Md. 498, 197 A. 2d 232, and we noted probable jurisdiction, 377 U. S. 987. We reverse.

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The District Attorney of Orleans Parish, Louisiana, was convicted by a state court for defamation, principally for attributing “a large backlog of pending criminal cases to the inefficiency, laziness, and excessive vacations of the judges” and stating that “by refusing to authorize disbursements to cover the expenses of undercover investigations of vice in New Orleans, the judges had hampered his efforts to enforce the vice laws.”

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Ginsberg, who operated a stationery store and luncheonette, was convicted of selling “girlie” magazines to a 16-year-old boy in violation of the New York Penal Law, which made it unlawful “knowingly to sell … to a minor” under 17 “(a) any picture … which depicts nudity … and which is harmful to minors,” and “(b) any … magazine … which contains [such pictures] and which, taken as a whole, is harmful to minors.” Ginsberg challenged the law, and his conviction, as a violation of the 1st Amendment.

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The defendant’s publications were found to be permeated with the “leer of the sensualist” because they discussed sexual matter “without restraint” and engaged in “pandering,” “the business of purveying textual or graphic matter openly advertised to appeal to the erotic interest of their customers.”

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Section 16A of Chapter 278 of the Massachusetts General Laws,[1] as construed by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, requires trial judges, at trials for specified sexual offenses involving a victim under the age of 18, to exclude the press and general public from the courtroom during the testimony of that victim. The question presented is whether the statute thus construed violates the First Amendment as applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment.

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After being convicted under the statute, Johnny Wilson challenged a Georgia statute providing that “[a]ny person who shall, without provocation, use to or of another, and in his presence… opprobrious words or abusive language, tending to cause a breach of the peace… shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.” He argued it had not been narrowed by the Georgia courts to apply only to fighting words, “which by their very utterance… tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace,” and that it was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

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Appellant's employer discharged her when she refused to work certain scheduled hours because of sincerely held religious convictions adopted after beginning employment. The question to be decided is whether Florida's denial of unemployment compensation benefits to appellant violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution, as applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment.[1]

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360 U.S. 622 (1959) IN RE SAWYER.   No. 326. Supreme Court of United States.   Argued May 19-20, 1959. Decided June 29, 1959. CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.John T. McTernan argued the cause and filed a brief for petitioner. *623 A. William Barlow, attorney for the Bar… Read more

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A group of labor organizations, appellants here, and the carriers comprising the Southern Railway System, entered into a union-shop agreement pursuant to the authority of § 2, Eleventh of the Railway Labor Act.[1] The agreement *743 requires each of the appellees, employees of the carriers, as a condition of continued employment, to pay the appellant union representing his particular class or craft the dues, initiation fees and assessments uniformly *744 required as a condition of acquiring or retaining union membership. The appellees, in behalf of themselves and of employees similarly situated, brought this action in the Superior Court of Bibb County, Georgia, alleging that the money each was thus compelled to pay to hold his job was in substantial part used to finance the campaigns of candidates for federal and state offices whom he opposed, and to promote the propagation of political and economic doctrines, concepts and ideologies with which he disagreed. The Superior Court found that the allegations were fully proved[2] and entered a judgment *745 and decree enjoining the enforcement of the union-shop agreement on the ground that § 2, Eleventh violates the Federal Constitution to the extent that it permits such use by the appellants of the funds exacted from employees.[3] The Supreme Court of Georgia affirmed, 215 *746 Ga. 27, 108 S. E. 2d 796.[4] On appeal to this Court under 28 U. S. C. § 1257 (1), we noted probable jurisdiction, 361 U. S. 807.

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A manager of a movie theater in Ohio was convicted for “possessing and exhibiting an allegedly obscene film” for showing Les Amants.

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A draftee accorded Class I-O conscientious objector status and completing performance of required alternative *363 civilian service[1] does not qualify under 38 U. S. C. § 1652 (a) (1) as a "veteran who . . . served on active duty" (defined in 38 U. S. C. § 101 (21) as "full-time duty in the Armed Forces"), and is therefore not an "eligible veteran" entitled under 38 U. S. C. § 1661 (a) to veterans' educational benefits provided by the Veterans' Readjustment Benefits Act of 1966.[2] Appellants, the Veterans' *364 Administration and the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs, for that reason, denied the application for educational assistance of appellee Robison, a conscientious objector who filed his application after he satisfactorily completed two years of alternative civilian service at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston. Robison thereafter commenced this class action[3] in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, seeking a declaratory judgment that 38 U. S. C. §§ 101 (21), 1652 (a) (1), and 1661 (a), read together, violated the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom and the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the laws.[4] Appellants moved to dismiss the action on the *365 ground, among others, that the District Court lacked jurisdiction because of 38 U. S. C. § 211 (a) which prohibits judicial review of decisions of the Administrator.[5] The District Court denied the motion, and, on the merits, rejected appellee's First Amendment claim, but sustained the equal protection claim and entered a judgment declaring "that 38 U. S. C. §§ 1652 (a) (1) and 1661 (a) defining `eligible veteran' and providing for entitlement to educational assistance are unconstitutional and that 38 U. S. C. § 101 (21) defining `active duty' is unconstitutional with respect to chapter 34 of Title 38, United States Code, 38 U. S. C. §§ 1651-1697, conferring Veterans' Educational Assistance, for the reason that said sections deny plaintiff and members of his class due process of law in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States . . . ." 352 F. Supp. 848, 862 (1973).[6] We postponed *366 consideration of the question of jurisdiction in light of § 211 (a) to the hearing on the merits, and set the case for oral argument with No. 72-700, Hernandez v. Veterans' Administration, post, p. 391. 411 U. S. 981 (1973).[7] We hold, in agreement with the District Court, that § 211 (a) is inapplicable to this action and therefore that appellants' motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction of the subject matter was properly denied. On the merits, we agree that appellee's First Amendment claim is without merit but disagree that §§ 1652 (a) (1), 1661 (a), and 101 (21) violate the Fifth Amendment and therefore reverse the judgment of the District Court.

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Appellants, faculty members of the State University of New York and a non-faculty employee, brought this action for declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that New York's teacher loyalty laws and regulations are unconstitutional. Their continued employment had been terminated or was threatened when each appellant faculty member refused to comply with a requirement of the University trustees that he certify that he was not a Communist and that, if he had ever been one, he had so advised the university president, and the non-faculty employee refused to state under oath whether he had advocated or been a member of a group which advocated forceful overthrow of the government. Under § 3021 of New York's Education Law, "treasonable or seditious" utterances or acts are grounds for dismissal from the public school system, as well as under § 105, subd. 3, of the Civil Service Law. Other provisions of § 105 of the Civil Service Law disqualify from the civil service or employment in the educational system any person advocating or involved with the distribution of written material which advocates the forceful overthrow of the government. Section 3021 does not define "treasonable or seditious." Section 105, subd. 3, provides that "treasonable word or act" shall mean "treason" as defined in the Penal Law, and "seditious word or act" shall mean "criminal anarchy" as therein defined. Section 3022 (the Feinberg Law) of the Education Law requires the State Board of Regents to issue regulations for the disqualification or removal on loyalty grounds of faculty or other personnel in the state educational system, to make a list of "subversive" organizations, and to provide that membership therein constitutes prima facie evidence of disqualification for employment. The Board listed the National and State Communist Parties as "subversive organizations" under the law, but, shortly before the trial of this case, the university trustees' certificate requirement was rescinded and it was announced that no person would be ineligible for employment "solely" because he refused to sign the certificate, and that §§ 3021 and 3022 of the Education Law and § 105 of the Civil Service Law constituted part of the employment contract. A three-judge District Court sustained the constitutionality of these provisions against appellants' challenges of vagueness and overbreadth and dismissed the complaint. Held: 1. Adler v. Board of Education, 342 U. S. 485, in which this Court upheld some aspects of the New York teacher loyalty plan before its extension to state institutions of higher learning, is not controlling, the vagueness issue presented here involving § 3021 and § 105 not having been decided in Adler, and the validity of the subversive organization membership provision of § 3022 having been upheld for reasons subsequently rejected by this Court. Pp. 385 U. S. 593-595. 2. The rescission of the certificate requirement does not moot this case, as the substance of the statutory and regulatory complex challenged by appellants remains. P. 385 U. S. 596. 3. Section 3021 of the Education Law and § 105, subds. 1(a), 1(b), and 3, of the Civil Service Law, as implemented by the machinery created pursuant to § 3022 of the Education Law, are unconstitutionally vague, since no teacher can know from § 3021 of the Education Law and § 105, subd. 3, of the Civil Service Law what constitutes the boundary between "seditious" and nonseditious utterances and acts, and the other provisions may well prohibit the employment of one who advocates doctrine abstractly, without any attempt to incite others to action, and may be construed to cover mere expression of belief. Pp. 385 U. S. 597-604. (a) These provisions, which have not been interpreted by the New York courts, can have a stifling effect on the "free play of the spirit which all teachers ought especially to cultivate and practice" (Wieman v. Updegraff, 344 U. S. 183, 344 U. S. 195 (concurring opinion)). Pp. 385 U. S. 601-602. (b) Academic freedom is a special concern of the First Amendment, which does not tolerate laws that cast a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom. P. 385 U. S. 603. (c) The prolixity and profusion of statutes, regulations, and administrative machinery, and manifold cross-references to interrelated enactments and rules aggravate the problem of vagueness of wording. P. 385 U. S. 604. 4. The provisions of the Civil Service Law (§ 105, subd. 1(c)) and the Education Law (§ 3022, subd. 2) which make Communist Party membership, as such, prima facie evidence of disqualification for employment in the public school system are "overbroad," and therefore unconstitutional. Pp. 385 U. S. 605-610. (a) Constitutional doctrine after this Court's upholding of § 3022, subd. 2, in Adler has rejected its major premise that public employment may be conditioned upon the surrender of constitutional rights which could not be abridged by direct government action. P. 385 U. S. 605. (b) Mere knowing membership, without a specific intent to further the unlawful aims of an organization, is not a constitutionally adequate basis for imposing sanctions. Pp. 385 U. S. 606-610. 255 F.Supp. 981, reversed and remanded.

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The principal question presented by this appeal is whether a Minnesota statute, imposing certain registration and reporting requirements upon only those religious organizations that solicit more than fifty per cent of their funds from nonmembers, discriminates against such organizations in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.[1]

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367 U.S. 820 (1961) LATHROP v. DONOHUE.   No. 200. Supreme Court of United States.   Argued January 18, 1961. Decided June 19, 1961. APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF WISCONSIN.Trayton L. Lathrop and Leon E. Isaksen argued the cause and filed a brief for appellant. John W. Reynolds, Attorney General of Wisconsin, and Gordon… Read more

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Upon the Louisiana Supreme Court's reconsideration of this case in light of Gooding v. Wilson, 405 U. S. 518 (1972), pursuant to our remand, 408 U. S. 913 (1972), that court, three judges dissenting, again sustained appellant's conviction upon a charge of addressing spoken words to a New Orleans police officer in violation of New Orleans Ordinance 828 M. C. S. § 49-7, 263 La. 809, 269 So. 2d 450 (1972).[1] We noted probable jurisdiction, 412 U. S. 926 (1973), and we reverse. We hold that § 49-7, as construed by the Louisiana Supreme Court, is overbroad in violation of the First and Fourteenth *132 Amendments and is therefore facially invalid. Section 49-7 provides:

"It shall be unlawful and a breach of the peace for any person wantonly to curse or revile or to use obscene or opprobrious language toward or with reference to any member of the city police while in the actual performance of his duty."
The Louisiana Supreme Court on remand did not refine or narrow these words, but took them as they stood: "The proscriptions are narrow and specific— wantonly cursing, reviling, and using obscene or opprobrious language." 263 La., at 827, 269 So. 2d, at 456. Nonetheless, that court took the position that, as written, "it [§ 49-7] is narrowed to `fighting words' uttered to specific persons at a specific time . . . ." Id., at 826, 269 So. 2d, at 456. But § 49-7 plainly has a broader sweep than the constitutional definition of "fighting words" announced in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U. S. 568, 572 (1942), and reaffirmed in Gooding v. Wilson, supra, at 522, namely, "those [words] which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace." That the Louisiana Supreme Court contemplated a broader reach of the ordinance is evident from its emphasis upon the city's justification for regulation of "the conduct of any person towards a member of the city police while in the actual performance of his duty . . . . Permitting the cursing or reviling of or using obscene or opprobrious words to a police officer while in the actual performance of his duty would be unreasonable and basically incompatible with the officer's activities and the place where such activities are performed." 263 La., at 825, 269 So. 2d, at 456.[2]*133 At the least, the proscription of the use of "opprobrious language," embraces words that do not "by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace." That was our conclusion as to the word "opprobrious" in the Georgia statute held unconstitutional in Gooding v. Wilson, where we found that the common dictionary definition of that term embraced words "conveying or intended to convey disgrace" and therefore that the term was not limited to words which "by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace." 405 U. S., at 525. The same conclusion is compelled as to the reach of the term in § 49-7, for we find nothing in the opinion of the Louisiana Supreme Court that makes any meaningful attempt to limit or properly define—as limited by Chaplinsky and Gooding—"opprobrious," or indeed any other term in § 49-7. In that circumstance it is immaterial whether the words appellant used might be punishable under a properly limited statute or ordinance. We reaffirm our holding in Gooding v. Wilson, supra, at 520-521, in this respect:
"It matters not that the words [appellant] used might have been constitutionally prohibited under a narrowly and precisely drawn statute. At least when statutes regulate or proscribe speech and when `no readily apparent construction suggests itself as a vehicle for rehabilitating the statutes in a single prosecution,' . . . the transcendent value to all society of constitutionally protected expression is deemed to justify allowing `attacks on overly broad statutes with no requirement that the person making *134 the attack demonstrate that his own conduct could not be regulated by a statute drawn with the requisite narrow specificity' . . . . This is deemed necessary because persons whose expression is constitutionally protected may well refrain from exercising their rights for fear of criminal sanctions provided by a statute susceptible of application to protected expression."
In sum, § 49-7 punishes only spoken words. It can therefore withstand appellant's attack upon its facial constitutionality only if, as authoritatively construed by the Louisiana Supreme Court, it is not susceptible of application to speech, although vulgar or offensive, that is protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Cohen v. California, 403 U. S. 15, 18-22 (1971); Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U. S. 1, 4-5 (1949); Gooding v. Wilson, supra, at 520. Since § 49-7, as construed by the Louisiana Supreme Court, is susceptible of application to protected speech, the section is constitutionally overbroad and therefore is facially invalid.

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Overruled

These cases consider the constitutionality of two minority preference policies adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). First, the FCC awards an enhancement for minority ownership and participation in management, which is weighed together with all other relevant factors in comparing mutually exclusive applications for licenses for new radio or television broadcast stations. Second, the FCC's so-called "distress sale" policy allows a radio or television broadcaster whose qualifications to hold a license have come into question to transfer that license before the FCC resolves the matter in a noncomparative hearing, but only if the transferee is a minority enterprise that meets certain requirements.

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This case, like Ginzburg v. United States, ante, p. 463, also decided today, involves convictions under a criminal obscenity statute. A panel of three judges of the Court of Special Sessions of the City of New York found appellant guilty of violating § 1141 of the New York Penal Law[1] by hiring others to prepare obscene books, publishing obscene books, and possessing obscene books with intent to sell them.[2] 26 Misc. 2d 152, 207 N. Y. S. 2d 390 *504 (1960). He was sentenced to prison terms aggregating three years and ordered to pay $12,000 in fines for these crimes.[3] The Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed those convictions. 17 App. Div. 2d 243, 234 N. Y. S. 2d 342 (1962). The Court of Appeals affirmed without opinion. 15 N. Y. 2d 671, 204 N. E. 2d 209 (1964), remittitur amended, 15 N. Y. 2d 724, 205 N. E. 2d 201 (1965). We noted probable jurisdiction. 380 U. S. 960. We affirm.

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This case originated in companion suits by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Inc. (NAACP), and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (Defense Fund), brought in 1957 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The suits sought to restrain the enforcement of Chapters 31, 32, 33, 35 and 36 of the Virginia Acts of Assembly, 1956 Extra Session, on the ground that the *418 statutes, as applied to the activities of the plaintiffs, violated the Fourteenth Amendment. A three-judge court convened pursuant to 28 U. S. C. ง 2281, after hearing evidence and making fact-findings, struck down Chapters 31, 32 and 35 but abstained from passing upon the validity of Chapters 33 and 36 pending an authoritative interpretation of these statutes by the Virginia courts.[1] The complainants thereupon petitioned in the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond to declare Chapters 33 and 36 inapplicable to their activities, or, if applicable, unconstitutional. The record in the Circuit Court was that made before the three-judge court supplemented by additional evidence. The Circuit Court held the chapters to be both applicable and constitutional. The holding was sustained by the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals as to Chapter 33, but reversed as to Chapter 36, which was held unconstitutional under both state and federal law.[2] Thereupon the Defense Fund returned to the Federal District Court, where its case is presently pending, while the NAACP filed the instant petition. We granted certiorari, 365 U. S. 842.[3] We heard argument in the 1961 Term *419 and ordered reargument this Term. 369 U. S. 833. Since no cross-petition was filed to review the Supreme Court of Appeals' disposition of Chapter 36, the only issue before us is the constitutionality of Chapter 33 as applied to the activities of the NAACP.There is no substantial dispute as to the facts; the dispute centers about the constitutionality under the Fourteenth Amendment of Chapter 33, as construed and applied by the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to include NAACP's activities within the statute's ban against "the improper solicitation of any legal or professional business."The NAACP was formed in 1909 and incorporated under New York law as a nonprofit membership corporation in 1911. It maintains its headquarters in New York and presently has some 1,000 active unincorporated branches throughout the Nation. The corporation is licensed to do business in Virginia, and has 89 branches there. The Virginia branches are organized into the Virginia State Conference of NAACP Branches (the Conference), an unincorporated association, which in 1957 had some 13,500 members. The activities of the Conference are financed jointly by the national organization and the local branches from contributions and membership dues. NAACP policy, binding upon local branches and conferences, is set by the annual national convention.The basic aims and purposes of NAACP are to secure the elimination of all racial barriers which deprive Negro citizens of the privileges and burdens of equal citizenship rights in the United States. To this end the Association engages in extensive educational and lobbying activities. It also devotes much of its funds and energies to an extensive *420 program of assisting certain kinds of litigation on behalf of its declared purposes. For more than 10 years, the Virginia Conference has concentrated upon financing litigation aimed at ending racial segregation in the public schools of the Commonwealth.

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